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Profile: Promenade Samuel de Champlain, Quebec City

An award-winning green oasis running along the St. Lawrence River.

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Quai des Cageux, an observatory at one end of the Promenade Samuel de Champlain, Quebec City.

Quai des Cageux, an observatory at one end of the Promenade Samuel de Champlain, Quebec City.

Photo © Marie Asselin.

History of the Promenade

Walking along the Promenade, it's hard to believe that before 2008 the waterfront stretching from Sillery to the city's bridges, a former industrialized area, was left to itself and neglected after gas companies abandoned it in the early 80s. Now, it's a premier destination for all residents who want to take a walk, cycle or roller-skate along the river, gaze at boats, huge and small, passing by, or enjoy an impromptu picnic in beautiful surroundings.

The Promenade, named after the founder of Quebec City, Samuel de Champlain, was the provincial government's foremost gift to the city for its 400th anniversary. The ambitious restoration project started in 2006, took two years to complete and was inaugurated right before the start of the city's anniversary festivities on June 24, 2008. The city's goal in building the Promenade was to "give the river back" to its residents.

The newly developed Promenade connects to an existing biking path leading straight into the city's Old Port, creating a scenic six-mile trail along the St. Lawrence River.

Visiting the Promenade

By car:

  • From Quebec City's South Shore (Highway 20): Cross the St. Lawrence River via the Pierre-Laporte Bridge (heading towards Henri-IV highway North). Take Exit 132 "Boulevard Champlain". Turn left at the first crossing, then head straight on Boulevard Champlain until you see Quai des Cageux, the iconic start of the Promenade.

  • From Trois-Rivières (Highway 40): Drive on Highway 40 East. Exit on Duplessis Highway South. Merge onto Henri-IV Highway towards Pierre-Laporte Bridge. Take Exit 132 "Boulevard Champlain". Turn left at the first crossing, then head straight on Boulevard Champlain until you see Quai des Cageux, the iconic start of the Promenade.

  • From Quebec City's Old Port: Head south on Rue Dalhousie toward Boulevard Champlain. Merge on Boulevard Champlain and drive (or walk or cycle) for 3.9 miles until you reach the Chemin du Foulon intersection, which marks the other end of the Promenade.

Parking: Free parking is available at both ends of the Promenade (at the bottom of Côte Ross and Côte de Sillery/Chemin du Foulon), as well as all along Boulevard Champlain.

Public transit: During the summer season (June 23 to September 9), the 400 "Littoral" bus route runs from Beauport to downtown Quebec City, then along Boulevard Champlain and toward Sainte-Foy Centre. The cost is CAD$2.65 for a one-way ticket and the route runs four buses per hour from 10am to 8pm, reducing to two per hour from 8pm to midnight. Please check Quebec City's transit system website (Réseau de Transport de la Capitale) to view the full schedule.

From fall to spring, there are unfortunately no buses serving the Promenade area. The best way to get there is to take a taxi from the Old Port to the Chemin du Foulon intersection, or walk or cycle along the path connecting the Old Port to the Promenade.

Things to Do

The Promenade is divided into three sections: Station des Quais, Station des Sports, and Station des Cageux.

Station des Quais is the contemplative section where four themed quais (quays) represent the four different "moods" of the St. Lawrence River:

  • Quai-des-Vents (quay of the winds) features stylized windmills;

  • Quai-des-Hommes (quay of the men) features a wooden walkway ending with a tall wooden wall pierced by an horizontal window framing the scenery and concrete steps giving access to the river;

  • Quai-des-Flots (quay of the waves) features water fountains dotted all along the quay and the waterfront;

  • Quai-des-Brumes (quay of the fog) features refreshing mist sprayed all along the quay every few minutes.

Station des Quais is also where eight contemporary works of art created by Quebec artists have been installed.

Station des Sports is the active section where two soccer fields are located, along with larger grass areas which are perfect for casual ball or Frisbee games.

Station des Cageux is the exploratory and informative section. Quai des Cageux hosts an interpretation center where the history of the area is visually explained, as well as an observatory tower providing a great vantage point over the Promenade. This section is also home to the Boisé de Tequenonday, which features a path climbing up the cape and leading to panoramic viewpoints, where century-old trees can be observed and details about archeological excavations conducted in the area are revealed.

Besides these themed sections, the Promenade provides many general activity opportunities:

  • Athletic types can walk, cycle or roller-blade along the Promenade (the walking and cycling/roller-blading paths are separated).

  • Water lovers can kayak on the river, which is easily accessible from four different locations along the Promenade, but you must provide your own equipment. Please note that swimming in the St. Lawrence River is not recommended.

  • Those in need of relaxation can soak up the sun sitting on one of the numerous benches or bring a blanket to lie down on the comfy grass.

  • Kids love to play in the Quai-des-Flots fountains. And dogs love to run along the path, play fetch in the lawn or swim in the St. Lawrence River!

Where to Eat and Drink

Water fountains are dotted all along the Promenade.

The Café de la Promenade is located on Quai des Cageux and provides refreshments, light meals (such as salads, European-style hot dogs and paninis) as well as ice cream and sorbets. The Café is open daily for the summer season from 9am to 8pm, weather permitting.

Rue Maguire, a commercial street dotted with restaurants, cafés, grocery stores and gourmet shops, is right at the top of the Côte de Sillery, at the eastern end of the Promenade.

Farther off the Promenade, 2.7 miles toward Quebec City's Old Port, at Bassin Brown, is Panache Mobile, a "popup version" of one of Quebec's best gastronomic restaurants, Panache. Open for the summer season only, Panache Mobile's concept is that of a gourmet food truck, serving affordable gourmet dishes with a modern twist such as lobster and avocado rolls, BLT burgers with caramelized onions and mushrooms or French fries with truffle mayo. Located opposite 615 Boulevard Champlain, right by the river. Open daily from late June to early October, 11am to 5pm, weather permitting.

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